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The new swine flu strain also may have hit some pigs at the Minnesota State Fair in late August, animals possibly infected by some sick 4-H students. If the infection is confirmed, it wouldn't be a surprise: A sick farm worker first infected pigs in Canada last spring, and herds have been hit in Australia and Argentina, too. The virus doesn't spread to humans who eat pork.
Fortunately, most people recover from the new strain with simple at-home care, just as with the regular flu. While there aren't precise counts, states have reported more than 2,000 deaths from pneumonia or flu-like illnesses to the CDC since Aug. 30. And Schuchat said other tracking systems show those deaths have reached the level that each year is used to declare an influenza epidemic, months early.
As of Wednesday, states had ordered 8 million of the 11.4 million doses of swine flu vaccine the government has ready to ship. Just over half of the vaccine now available is in shot form and the rest as a nasal spray. First in line for scarce H1N1 vaccine are supposed to be pregnant women, anyone age 6 months to 24 years, health care workers and people under 65 with flu-risky conditions.
CDC's Schuchat urged patience, saying eventually enough vaccine will be here for everyone who wants it.
Regular winter flu kills 36,000 Americans a year, and around the country some clinics aren't getting shipments of seasonal vaccine as quickly as expected either, as manufacturers juggle the extra work. About 82 million doses of seasonal vaccine have been shipped, and 114 million eventually will arrive, enough for typical demand, Schuchat said.
On the Net:
Flu info: http://www.flu.gov/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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